Verified by Kimberly Langdon M.D.
Kimberly Langdon is an obstetrician/gynecologist with 19 years of clinical experience and graduated from The Ohio State University, College of Medicine.
Dim sum is one of the best parts of going to Chinese restaurants and take-outs.
Biting into a steaming ball of dough and finding out what kind of meat is inside (hopefully, what was ordered), carefully removing each one from their little baskets as the meal goes on.
But can you eat dim sum while pregnant? Or is this an experience that you might have to miss out on for 9 months?
Can you eat dim sum when pregnant?
Yes, you can eat dim sum while pregnant, although, as is so often the case while pregnant, you need to take care with what types you eat, and that you eat in moderation.
We recommend choosing steamed dim sum dumplings over fried ones where possible when pregnant, as fried dim sum is often higher in levels of salt, fat, and cholesterol thanks to the oil that they are fried in to give them that extra crunch.
Vegetable dim sum is often recommended as being the best filling for your dumplings when pregnant or lean meat, but there are a few specific types of vegetable dim sum that you should avoid.
These include fillings made of spinach, which, if you overeat, results in too much oxalic acid, which can harm a developing baby’s growth. Water chestnut dim sum should also be avoided, as it is dangerous to mothers and babies, and can induce uterine contractions.
Ladies should not eat dim sum filled with fungi either, as fungi stimulate the blood, and can increase the risk of bleeding.
Can you eat prawn dim sum when pregnant?
Yes, you can eat prawn dim sum while pregnant, although, as with all seafood that you might eat when pregnant, check with your waiter to make sure that the prawns are fully cooked through before eating.
Cooked prawns are a pinkish-red color, while raw prawns are a whitish grey, and often much slimier in texture. If you want to be certain, we suggest cutting into the first dumpling in your basket with a knife to check the color of the prawn inside. Providing that the prawns are fully cooked, they are no riskier for you to eat while pregnant than other kinds of well-cooked meats such as chicken or beef.
Can you eat pork dumplings when pregnant?
Yes, you can eat pork dumplings when pregnant. As with prawn dim sum, we recommend making sure that any pork dim sum you have is fully cooked through, and suggest asking for lean meat where possible to limit the amount of fat you are eating.
How is dim sum made?
To make dim sum, the cook will first prepare the dough. This is usually done by mixing flour, water, and a leavening agent together. The dough is then kneaded until it is smooth and elastic.
Next, the cook will shape the dough into small balls.
The balls of dough are then steamed in bamboo baskets or on metal trays. Once they are cooked through, they are ready to be served.
Dim sum is typically served with tea and can be enjoyed as a snack or a meal.
What else to avoid?
Eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain and tooth decay. Fat is also high in calories, and eating too much fat can cause you to put on weight. Eating too much-saturated fat can also increase your cholesterol levels, which increases your risk of developing heart disease.
Foods that are high in fat, sugar, or both include all types of spreading fats (such as butter), oils, salad dressings, cream, chocolate, crisps, biscuits, pastries, ice cream, and cake.
If you eat these types of foods and drinks regularly, try to cut down on the amount you have and have them less often.
It’s also a good idea to swap saturated fats for unsaturated fats where possible (e.g. vegetable oils). This will help to keep your cholesterol levels in check.
Tips for preparing foods safely during pregnancy
Make sure to wash all fruits, vegetables, and salads thoroughly to remove any traces of soil which may contain toxoplasma. This parasite can cause toxoplasmosis, which can be harmful to your unborn baby.
Additionally, wash all surfaces and utensils, as well as your hands, after preparing raw foods like poultry, meat, and eggs. This will help you avoid food poisoning.
When storing raw foods, make sure to keep them separate from ready-to-eat foods to prevent contamination.
Use a separate knife and chopping board for raw meats. Ready meals should be heated until steaming hot throughout – this is especially important for meals containing poultry.
Finally, some foods like eggs, poultry burgers and sausages need to be cooked very thoroughly until steaming hot all the way through.
Overall, dim sum is safe to eat during pregnancy. Expectant mothers may want to limit the amount of dim sum that they eat thanks to the high salt and fat content found even in steamed dim sum and should make sure that their dumplings are well cooked.
Dim sum is safe to enjoy in moderation throughout pregnancy, and, as with many other food items, overconsumption of foods is the most likely aspect to cause problems for you as a mother or your baby.